Loudon Wainwright III
Prolific folk singer Loudon Wainwight III has earned a cult following with his witty, self-mocking style and humorous lyrics. The son of a writer and editor at Life magazine, Loudon began his career in the late ’60s, singing humorous and nakedly honest autobiographical songs.
Signed to Atlantic Records, he recorded Album I (1970) and Album II (1971), accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, before switching to Columbia Records for which he made the folk-rock Album III (1972), which featured his best known hit “Dead Skunk.” Subsequent releases such as Attempted Mustache (1973) and the half-live Unrequited (1975) did not continue his initial commercial success, though Wainwright’s humour and engaging stage persona made him a cult figure and a concert favourite.
Wainwright has also made many film and television appearances. His most notable role was Captain Calvin Spalding (the “singing surgeon”) on three episodes of M*A*S*H, but he has also had parts in films like The Aviator, Big Fish, Knocked Up and the TV series Undeclared.
Loudon has regularly communicated with his family in song; his son Rufus was the subject of two of Wainwright’s more famous releases, the breastfeeding ode “Rufus is a Tit Man” and the retrospective “A Father and a Son.” Rufus, in turn, covered his father’s “One Man Guy” on his second album Poses and wrote “Dinner at Eight” about a family dispute. While family ties between Loudon and his children have been complicated at times, both Rufus and Martha contributed backing vocals to his Grammy-winning 2009 release High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project.